Are Healthcare Facilities Liable for Failing To Provide PPE
April 21, 2020 | Coronavirus
Attorneys all over the country have been receiving phone calls from nurses, med techs, and other health care workers since shortly after the COVID-19 crisis began.
Doctors and nurses everywhere have been inquiring as to what their legal remedies may be if they have been exposed to the Coronavirus due to the lack of personal protective equipment, or PPE, that is being supplied for them by their employers.
The Coronavirus Pandemic has created an unprecedented reason for legal risk to medical providers and other companies as the employees are exposed to a new virus due to the shortage of PPE.
A flood of litigation has already been filed from people who are facing weeks of medical bills, time lost from work, and in sad cases, even death because of exposure to this deadly disease.
Medical providers all over the country have been called out for forcing employees to work without the proper equipment to protect themselves from COVID-19.
Nurses are being instructed to wear the same masks all day long, from patient room to patient room, and are threatened with the loss of their jobs if they refuse.
Nurses and other health care workers who have blown the whistle on employers for these actions have been fired, despite the fact that whistleblowers are protected by law.
One nurse, Lauri Mazurkiewicz, is in the process of suing Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois for firing her after she warned coworkers in an email that the masks that they were provided by the hospital were not adequate protection against COVID-19.
The hospital was demanding that employees wear masks that were not as effective as the N95 mask that Lauri chose to use.
The administration went so far as to refuse to allow the staff to wear their own N95 masks on the grounds of the hospital.
As employees began treating patients with the deadly infection, Lauri became concerned about the safety of the masks which they were provided by the administration and took it upon herself to buy her own N95 mask.
She then emailed her coworkers and informed them that the masks which the hospital had provided them were not effective enough to protect them from the illness as they worked in patient room after patient room all day.
In her email, Lauri explained to her colleagues that the N95 mask was “safer and more effective” than the ones which they had been provided by their employers.
She expressed that she was wearing the safer choice which she had purchased for herself. Lauri shared in a news conference that she “just wanted to be a good nurse.”
The day after she sent that email, she wore her N95 mask to work and was fired.
The Northwestern Memorial Hospital had no comment on the case other than that they “take these matters seriously,” and claim that they are currently reviewing Lauri’s complaint.
Meanwhile, similar conditions exist in hospitals all across the country where medical staff is expected to work without effective protection from the virus.
The N95 masks, known formally as the Particulate Respirator 95, is so named because it has the ability to filter out up to 95% of particles in the air, including the dangerous ones, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These masks were made to fit tightly to the face and should be tested to ensure that they are sealed properly in normal conditions.
The surgical masks that are provided by most hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities fit loosely and do not protect against the respiratory droplets that carry and spread coronavirus.
Doctors all over the world have shared their concerns over the shortage of masks, including the N95 masks that Lauri suggested her coworkers use.
Stores in American are having a difficult time keeping these masks in stock.
While Northwestern Memorial Hospital did not provide these masks, Lauri had her own box at home and chose to use them to protect herself.
She maintains that hospitals everywhere should have been more prepared for a pandemic such as this one, and adds that the front line of medical staff should be better protected.
She and her attorneys have filed a case with the Cook County Circuit Court.
In that case, Lauri claims that she was fired because she attempted to expose public wrongdoing and corruption.
Even if the hospital did not have N95 masks for its employees, there was no reason to deny them the right to wear their own and protect themselves.
When she refused to remove her own N95 mask, the hospital administration chose to fire her, but Lauri notes that this firing came the very day after she sent an email to 50 colleagues encouraging them to wear the more effective masks and calling the hospital out for not providing them with a safe working environment.
Allegations against medical facilities for not providing proper PPEs during this pandemic are growing.
Nurse Melissa Scott worked at the Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia where she was sent to a floor where Coronavirus testing was being done.
Although the nurse had underlying conditions, she was still not given proper protective gear to wear to that floor.
That hospital has become known as one of the major hotbeds for the COVID-19 outbreak, which puts them at even greater risk.
A total of 647 positive tests and 29 deaths had been reported from that same floor last week.
Scott ended up quitting her job because she said that she had to put the lives of her family and herself first.
Stories such as these are popping up all over social media.
Doctors and nurses are sleeping in cars and campers to avoid going home and spreading the infection to their families.
There is not enough protective gear, and medical facilities are being sued for their failure to provide PPE to employees.
If you have been forced to work in dangerous conditions due to COVID-19 and have not been provided with adequate personal protective equipment, we can try to help.
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